Australia v England: New-look England must be quick out of blocks in one-day series

Six fresh players in the one-day squad must hit the ground running to ease pain of Ashes whitewash and Pietersen saga


There is a one-day series to play. There is always a one-day series to play. This one may struggle for immediate attention more than most.

The paint is hardly dry on the Ashes urn marking Australia’s name as the 5-0 winners in the latest encounter (this is a metaphorical inscription since the receptacle in question is only four inches tall and is housed permanently in a glass cabinet at Lord’s) yet now 14 of the players who took part must dust themselves down and start all over again in the coloured garb.

Australia have a squad that firmly indicates they will play these five matches and doubtless the three Twenty20s which follow as they played the Tests. They will come out blazing. Their probable batting order oozes big hitting, which England must not only contain but repel as soon as the series begins here in Melbourne tomorrow.

The tourists are in considerably better heart than they might have been. This is probably down to the addition of six players who were not involved in the Ashes but Alastair Cook, the captain, has also resolved that a new chapter is starting. He looked determined and chipper at the MCG nets yesterday.

Everyone in town has pointed out that England lost the Ashes 5-0 seven years ago and went on to win the one-day series. That was a near thing in a triangular tourney in which they looked to be going down the pan until a spectacular late burst led by Paul Collingwood.

They cannot afford a sluggish opening this time and were they to lose the first two games in this five-match contest, tomorrow in Melbourne and next Friday in Brisbane, it could all go one way. Two 5-0 reversals are impossible to contemplate but after what has just happened it is natural to fear the worst.

The change in mood has also probably been helped by a change in management. It is no criticism of Andy Flower to suggest that the advent of Ashley Giles as one-day coach may revitalise the team by changing its mood. It was Flower who first recognised the need to amend the role of team director by stepping back towards the end of 2012, to ease both his burden and perhaps that of the players having to listen to the same voice day in, day out, format after format.

If the cricket is exciting and close, this 50-over series will soon come out of the Ashes shadows – though never, of course, shake it off completely – and the imminence of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand a year hence lends an extra edge. But for now a player who has departed for home continues to dominate proceedings.

The future of Kevin Pietersen remained the subject of all the gossip here yesterday, not least following the surprising announcement by his Indian Premier League team, Delhi Daredevils, that they will not be retaining any of their players – including Pietersen and Australia’s David Warner.

Eoin Morgan, who has joined the party via the Dhaka Premier League in Bangladesh and the Big Bash League in Australia, where he was playing for Gazi Tank Cricketers and Sydney Thunder respectively, was in no doubt. That is the way with Pietersen: generally you are either for him or against him.

Morgan said: “I am a mate of Kevin. He is a player that every side in the world would want in their team. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t want him at the T20 World Cup. He played in the last one-day series and I captained the side and he was really good in the dressing room. He makes a positive contribution.”

Yet all the innuendo is that Pietersen was less than helpful around the dressing room and the team as the Test series wore on. Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, was at the team’s net session yesterday. He will have doubtless chatted to Giles as well as the players and eventually may have some tough calls to make.

If Pietersen continues for England, as well he may despite doubts expressed this week, one batsman in this series may only be keeping his spot warm. With Cook and Ian Bell settled in as the opening pair, Joe Root will presumably bat at No 3 with Morgan probably at four and Ravi Bopara at five.

When and if Pietersen returns, the No 3 spot may be earmarked for him. For now, the team will have to operate without him. It has usually managed as he has come and gone from one-day cricket these past few years. While playing 134 matches he has missed 72, the win percentages being 44.03 when he is in the side and 52.78 if not.

Meanwhile Steve Finn, the out-of-sorts fast bowler, again struggled for rhythm in the nets yesterday and it would be a pity if he were not given the opportunity to overcome his Ashes travails. He was the only one of 19 players in the party not to play in a Test. The ball was still not coming out as well as it might have done yesterday.

Players like Morgan, Bopara and Jos Buttler may well bring a fresh vitality to the squad. As Morgan said: “It will help us that players like myself have been playing in the Big Bash here in Australia, and also in cricket in Bangladesh.

“In past times we’d have players coming to a series like this who hadn’t played cricket for a few months. It’s great to succeed in competitions like the Big Bash, and come the World Cup it’s going to hold us in good stead, I hope.” For now a win, any kind of win, here would do nicely.

It’s a big series for... As England seek to rebuild after the Ashes debacle this trio must make a telling impact

Jos Buttler

Potential batting genius has been limbering up with a few handy innings for Melbourne in Big Bash

James Tredwell

England’s official spinner-in-chief now. If collared by Aussies’ boomers, England could be in trouble

Ben Stokes

Player of the moment and perhaps for next 10 years. Bound to be in team despite low-key ODI start

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn